Friday April 10, 2015
This week regional leaders from 35 Latin American and Caribbean nations meet at the Seventh Summit of the Americas. The meeting in Panama will be a historical encounter ending the 50-year exclusion of Cuba from the Organization of American States.
Both presidents Obama and Raul Castro will be present and a highly-anticipated meet and greet between them has the potential to rapidly advance a thaw in relations and an end to the unpopular US embargo against Cuba.
While Latin American governments have applauded the Obama administration’s efforts to reestablish ties with Cuba, hope for a renewed relationship with the region has been tainted by the US government’s recent actions against Venezuela. A unanimous statement from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which represents all 33 countries in the region, has firmly condemned the March 9, 2015 Executive Order issued by President Obama declaring Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The CELAC statement also rejected the corresponding sanctions imposed by the US government against Venezuelan officials, considering them “coercive measures contrary to international law.”